The PM’s Trail: With jibe at World Bank, Son of India inaugurates Sardar Sarovar dam

The inauguration of the dam in Gujarat is seen as a political gesture, especially as 85 per cent of the Narmada river’s catchment area lies in Madhya Pradesh.

Written by Jyoti Malhotra | Published:September 17, 2017 7:00 pm
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a jibe at the World Bank on Sunday, implying that it had given into the pressure of environmental activists like the Narmada Bachao Andolan when it stopped funding the Sardar Sarovar dam project in the mid-1980s, until Gujarat’s temples stepped in and saved the day.

From Sardar Patel to Marshal Arjan Singh (who died on Saturday), to Babasaheb Ambedkar to the thirsty jawan at a BSF post on the Gujarat border with Pakistan to the World Bank, the prime minister connected several dots as he inaugurated the world’s second largest dam project (after the Grand Coulee Dam in the US) on his 67th birthday at Dabhoi town in Gujarat on Sunday. He stated that he was keeping an eye on the Statue of Unity for Sardar Patel, whose cladding has just arrived from China. Nor did he forget to wish badminton player P V Sindhu for winning the Korean Open. “You know me, I can’t do small things. I don’t think small, I don’t do small. With 1.25 billion people with me, I can’t dream small,” the PM said, flanked by Transport, Highways and Water Resources Minister Nitin Gadkari and Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani.

In a tweet, the PM said : This project will benefit lakhs of farmers and help fulfill people’s aspirations. The inauguration of the dam in Gujarat is seen as a political gesture, especially as 85 per cent of the Narmada river’s catchment area lies in Madhya Pradesh. But the prime minister is from Gujarat, and elections are taking place in the state at the end of this year. Elections in Madhya Pradhesh, run by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan for the last 12 years, will take place next year in 2018.

Only five hours from Dabhoi, or 271 km away, at Chota Barda village in Dhar, Madhya Pradesh, India’s best-known water activist Medha Patkar was offering “jal satyagraha” along with 30 fellow activists of the Narmada Bachao Andolan, vowing not to move from the spot even if the waters submerged them. “People will drown in the Narmada, but they will not move. Even as Modiji’s birthday is being celebrated with pomp and style, thousands of families will meet an untimely end,” Patkar said.

narendra modi, narendra modi birthday, Sardar Sarovar dam, Sardar Sarovar dam  inaugration, sardar sarovar narmada dam, world bank, narendra modi narmada dam inauguration, Narmada Bachao Andolan, Medha Patkar, arjan singh, p v sindhu, narendra modi speech, “You know me, I can’t do small things. I don’t think small, I don’t do small. With 1.25 billion people with me, I can’t dream small,” the PM said. (Express photo by Bhupendra Rana)

But the prime minister was invoking several mythological comparisons, casting himself in the role of the Son of India, notwithstanding its patriarchal connotations. “When a son gives water to its parched mother earth, what can be a bigger feeling of satisfaction. When animals will bless for the green pastures created by Sardar Sarovar, I will be a grateful son of Bharat Mata,” the PM said. He was also the direct legatee of independent India’s most important leaders, Modi said. “From the land of Bapu and Sardar Patel, the Sardar Sarovar dam is dedicated to the nation today. This will benefit crores of citizens,” he added on his Twitter timeline.

Certainly, the World Bank, which is formulating a new India strategy for its largest loan recipient, seems to have caught the attention of the prime minister. Last week, officials from the ministries of water resources and external affairs were in Washington DC to participate in World Bank brokered meetings with Pakistan on the Indus Waters Treaty, as if placating international opinion that India would not take any drastic steps with regard to the most basic issue of water.

This week, Modi was chastising the World Bank for daring to defy India and refusing a loan to build the Sardar Sarovar dam. Finance minister Arun Jaitley is travelling to Washington DC next month for talks with World Bank president Jim Yong Kim. “A massive misinformation campaign was launched against the project. The World Bank which had earlier agreed to fund the project, refused to give loan for it raising environmental concerns. But, with or without the World Bank, we completed the massive project on our own,” the PM told a large gathering in Dabhoi.

The charm of the big project, from the days of Jawaharlal Nehru who laid the foundation of the Sardar Sarovar in 1961, certainly continues to hold the Indian imagination in thrall. As long back as 1979, the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal approved the construction of 3000 small, 135 medium, 30 major and 2 mega dams – the Sardar Sarovar and the Narmada Sagar – spanning the 1,312 km-long Narmada river which flows across the states of Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra before draining into the Arabian Sea.

The Narmada Valley authority is a multi-billion dollar project which will flood at least 13,385 hectares of forest land, displace thousands of tribal villages which will be submerged when the dam waters rise, including fertile lands. But it is also expected to provide water to 9000 villages and electricity to many more. Vijay Rupani has labeled it the “lifeline” of Gujarat.

Meanwhile, Twitter India clambered aboard the bandwagon of people wishing the prime minister happy birthday, with several balloons exploding on Narendra Modi’s Twitter page as soon as you open it.

Jyoti Malhotra tweets @jomalhotra

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  1. C
    Curious onlooker
    Sep 19, 2017 at 1:59 am
    Why ask for loans from the World Bank when money ders in India could be forced to loosen their purse strings to use idle money to finance projects? WB did a wise thing by refusing the loan.
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    1. C
      Curious onlooker
      Sep 19, 2017 at 2:05 am
      Erratum: ders should read ho a r ders
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    2. K
      K Joshi
      Sep 19, 2017 at 12:28 am
      Thousands of villages? Author must be thinking of all villaged of Gujarat. A biased opinion.
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      1. M
        Mahendra Yadav
        Sep 18, 2017 at 11:12 pm
        Such a low IQ journalist Jyoti Malhotra, this Islamic Express has that she doesn't even know that inauguration of a dam will take place at the place where its gates are constructed and this place is certainly located in the state of Gujrat. Gujarat is the major beneficiary of this project as Gujrat will get most of its water through canal to the agricultural areas.All leftists are such people they've very low IQ.
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        1. G
          g
          Sep 18, 2017 at 9:57 pm
          Congratulations to all of India on the project and the PM for supporting the project. People have historically concentrated near river beds. Hoping, the government will now build homes and provide support for those affected by the construction of the dam and take care of the environmental concerns. This is not to please or displease the NGO's. That is the right thing to do.
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          1. K
            kamlapati
            Sep 18, 2017 at 11:17 pm
            Why the people whose villages have been submerged for the benefit of Industrialist[ for creating an INDUSTRIAL CORRIDOR } need home to live?. It is a very unjust demand.When their villages have been given JAL SAMADHI what for they NEED houses?Even Bhagwan Ram took jal samadhi in SARU RIVER at AYODHYA. Can't the villager make this small sacrifice for Modi Ji and his friends. Rather they should take a pledge on 17 Sept that they will never parti te in any agitation for any type of compensation and that they are happy as their future generations wont have to go to any river for submerging their ashes . Gau Mata ki Jai. Dharti Mata ki jai
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          2. V
            Vish
            Sep 18, 2017 at 8:25 pm
            How is that this article fails to understand that the state where the dam is situated, would be responsible for water release and distribution as per accord. Catchment area is not the criterion for this purpose. When rains occur and the dam is full, puja is done at the dam by the people. Accordingly, inauguration of the dam happens at the dam.
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            1. B
              Barb Dewyre
              Sep 18, 2017 at 6:26 pm
              Modi Ji, you are the best thing that ever happened to India. What would we have done without you? The art of exaggeration, the temerity to twist a falsehood into a gospel truth, making tall promises and then making people believe that you are doing them a favour, even Goebells could have learnt a thing or two from you. They say that people get a government that they deserve. God alone knows when this Kalyug will finish.
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              1. Z
                zameer
                Sep 18, 2017 at 3:41 pm
                is this true that the nationalized banks has collected the crores of penalties from the lakhs of account holders for not maintaining the minimum balance, and these accounts are of poor people, farmers, widows, unemployed youth and students, who were unable to maintained the minimum balance. Whereas the same bank write off the loan for rich defaulters ? can any one raise this issue and these poor will get their hard earned money back to their accounts.
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                1. G
                  g
                  Sep 18, 2017 at 9:59 pm
                  Banks all over the world are notorious for the crime you mentioned. Rich people always come out ahead.
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                  1. K
                    kamlapati
                    Sep 18, 2017 at 11:22 pm
                    The poor people had opened the accounts under the j PRADHAN MANTRI J JAN-DHAN YOJANA inthe hope that the PM will give them 1500000 each as promised by him.
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                  TRUTH OF
                  Sep 18, 2017 at 2:43 pm
                  To those who think that World Bank stopped funding and its was great achievement by the current government, please take a look on this documents prior falling into the trap pf speech given by Mr. PM. : bankinformationcenter /wp-content/uploads/2013/01/WB sa uards background 28 July 2011.pdf It was world bank that recognizes the families that will be affected by the dam however our own PM does not as he is busy in creating the hoax of goodness in Gujarat as election nears....Bullet Train, Dam and Visit of Japanese PM. Many more stunts to follow until the election.
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                  1. P
                    Pitambar Sharma
                    Sep 18, 2017 at 5:39 pm
                    You look like a Marxist jihadi anti-national making baseless charges.
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                    1. K
                      kamlapati
                      Sep 18, 2017 at 11:29 pm
                      I fully sport pavitra remarks fo PANDIT PITAMBER SHARMA What more TRUTH OF wants BULLET TRAIN had been promised for the FRIENDS OF BJP the promise has started taking shape.?Now farmers will get PAVITRA BULLET when they ask for any thing. PERHAPS YOU KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BULLET-TRAIN and pavitra BULLET?
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                    Ajay
                    Sep 18, 2017 at 2:40 pm
                    He is right... World Bank, IMF and other US aids and common wealth aids, aids from Japan should have not been given to india in the last 70 years... we have enough wealth to sustain and build india, except the money goes to the govt. and not to the temples and babas.... temples and the babas are the richest en ies in india because of supers ion and moral fear that rules the psyche...
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                      Pitambar Sharma
                      Sep 18, 2017 at 5:41 pm
                      It is my money and I will give it to anybody I want and I do not have to give it to the government that is corrupt and I do not have to do what the jihadi Marxist preach.
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                      1. K
                        kamlapati
                        Sep 18, 2017 at 11:33 pm
                        Such BABAs are present in the in the Parliament also to protect the interests of Industrialist
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